|#2 climbing partners|
This old pair of climbing shoes are a metaphor for me, at the moment. Tired, and a bit worn around the edges from too much climbing, and too many adventures...as if such a thing were even possible!! :-p
I bought this pair of shoes in September 2012, and they've accompanied me on pretty much all of my outdoor chimping escapades.
(NB the term "chimping" is copyright Christina).
Fun fact: that is a photo of one pair of shoes - check out the fancy trick photography on me! ;-)
Is it obvious how that's done? It is to me, because, ya know...I know, right? I can't not know what I know and see if I would then work it out, see? I'm losing you now, aren't I?! Let's get swiftly back to the plot...my old shoes;
Climbing shoes are problematic. You have to have a good fit - they need to be snug to your feet, preferably with no gaps. They come in a range of styles to fit all budgets, and a variety of climbing disciplines. Climbers often have several pairs and pick the ones best suited for the task at hand.
When you first start climbing, though, it's hard to find suitable shoes. The Holy Grail is that pair which fits you well, is comfortable to wear, and also performs well on the rock.
Stockists of climbing shoes are rare, and will only hold a certain amount of stock, from a small selection of brands, in a narrow range of sizes.
Buying on the internet is risky as, if you climb in them, you can't return them...and you don't always know if they're any good until you climb in them.
Sizing is also all over the place. Climbers commonly go several sizes smaller than their street shoe size, and squeeze their feet painfully into them, for peak performance.
I'm not sure if it's my age, but I really can't be doing with that. I want my toes flat and comfortable, not scrunched up and crippling. So I go up a few sizes...I'm definitely built for comfort, not for speed!!
This was my 4th pair of climbing shoes, and the first pair where I'd really got it right. And that was in part because the 3rd pair I had was almost identical, just one European size smaller. They were a bit tight for all day use, hence I bought these in a 47, for all day comfort.
When we started climbing outdoors in late 2012, I had several pairs of shoes available.
From the first time I wore this pair, they were my go to shoes for every climb for the next 12 months.
They took me up early boulder problems at Cratcliffe Tor, and I learned to climb gritstone slabs in them in March 2013...they were with me on my first top rope climbs at Birchen Edge, and my first lead climbs at Windgather Rocks...my first multi pitch climbs, at Tremadog and Holyhead Mountain...many trips to the Peak, including amazing adventures at The Roaches...and down and then up dramatic sea cliffs in an idyllic setting in Pembrokeshire.
They've been with me up easy diffs, hard VS's, frozen slabs, epically exposed buttresses, featureless boulders and dank green chimneys.
They only began to fade in the magical Forest of Fontainebleau in September 2013. And then I simply started a gradual, slow transition to an identical but brand new pair of the same shoes.
This transition has only just completed, as in the last 2 weeks I'm now exclusively using their replacements, and I am about to send this old pair off to be resoled.
I hope it breathes new life into them...they have given me confidence to attempt many daunting feats, the grip to succeed in those feats, and they've been as comfortable as old slippers all the way...brilliant!
I didn't realise until writing this how fond I am of these old Scarpa Forces.
If Anna has been my number one adventuring partner, these shoes have been number two.
And now they're old and tired, and in need of a rest and a bit of reconstructive surgery.
Having climbed 6 times in the last 2 weeks, and on each occasion trying to push hard through the pain barrier, in order to boost my fitness in time for sport climbing in Spain in a few weeks, I feel pretty much the same...very old, absolutely exhausted, really in need of sleep...and who couldn't use a nice bit of a surgical lift, eh?
I'm Duty Manager in the morning, and therefore have to be at my desk, less than 8 hours from now...